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What SATC Taught Me About My Breakup

After its release, I waited a whole week before seeing the SATC movie, a choice which made me one of the last women on the planet to have seen the film.

Sex & The City MovieThere are many reviews of the film that basically tell you everything you need to know, so I will just assume you are familiar with the show’s history, the film’s basic plot, and don’t need to be warned of SPOILERS.

As this post’s title suggests, I’m currently grieving a relationship (details to be revealed later), so I think the best parts of the movie were breakup scenes. They were cathartic for me, as big crying scenes are a part of my life these days. I loved the way Carrie’s friends took wonderful care of her. Mr. Big’s abandoning Carrie at the altar made PERFECT sense and was right in line with the type of person he was.

But I was infuriated with two aspects of Carrie’s behavior, and both of them taught me important lessons. When Big proposes marriage, Carrie mealy-mouths her way to an acceptance. She was so afraid of losing the relationship that what should have been a resounding, “YES! I’ll marry you!” turned into, “Well, okay, maybe, if you say so…” From this I learned to not be so afraid of losing a relationship not to say exactly what I want.

And the second of course, is Carrie’s acceptance of Big’s lousy apology and Manolo-shoe proposal. Who would marry someone who continually treated her with disrespect for so long and selfishly subjected her to such humiliation?

Bloggers & movie reviewers alike condemn the film as “unrealistic” and abhor the filmmakers’ choice of ending. But strip away the designers and fantasy income levels, and what you have here are four very real women and four very real stories.

In Samantha’s case, there are absolutely women like this and one is inclined to feel sorry for her boyfriend, Smith. Sometimes, breakups really do happen for no good reason. Smith’s only crime here is choosing to spend five years with a woman so completely unavailable. Miranda’s storyline is similarly realistic.

And then there’s dear Charlotte. Reviewers seem bored by her relentless happiness, but let’s not forget her repeated and devastating heartbreaks: several terrible breakups, a miscarriage & the ongoing grief of extended infertility; a devastating divorce. That she ends up with “everything she always wanted” is even more authentic in light of her earlier life; those of us who are unfailingly optimistic can eventually get everything we dream of. If there’s anyone to emulate in this film, it would be her.

Carrie’s on/off relationship and consistently stupid relationship choices clearly demonstrate what can happen when a woman has a too-low opinion of herself. The filmmakers’ only crime is in presenting Carrie’s ending as a romantic ideal, when in real life Carrie would be harshly questioned by everyone in her life and would most likely lose credibility with her public audience.

For all of us that are grieving, mourning relationships, let Carrie be an example to us. The bravery of enduring a painful breakup and reaching for something better is infinitely better than a fate like hers.

Getting Past Your Past: SATC Cultural Impact Discussion
Love is Dope: SATC Review

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  1. June 24, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you for the link! I wish you well on your journey.

    -D

  2. Becca
    July 17, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Hi,
    I have to say that I think you’re being quite harsh on Carrie in this. I agree with a lot of the other things you say but not that. The way she is with Big is that they’d already done “everything imagineable to mess it up” and that still wasn’t enough; showing how love isn’t meant to be roses and honeymoons all the time, and that perseverance can be worth it.

    In some ways, I see Carrie’s character as a warning of not being too stupid about things, but she’s happy in the end?

    x

  3. secretsociologist
    July 18, 2008 at 5:48 am

    Hi Becca! Thanks for reading the article.

    I agree that Carrie seems happy in the end. And in movie-world, that happiness is what matters and will hopefully stay with viewers.

    For me, though, her apparent happiness is overshadowed by her years of heartbreak at the hands of Mr. Big. This isn’t just one relationship that encountered problems in a short period of time. These are two people who have made up & broken up over the space of 10 years–they are old enough to know better.

    Why should it be a happy thing to “settle” for someone who displays such selfishness, has commitment issues, disappears for stretches at a time, and treats you poorly? This is not behavior that predicts a happy marriage, much less one you waited 10 years for.

    When you’re in love with someone, you try hard not to “mess it up.” Love *isn’t* meant to be “roses & honeymoons” all the time, but it should still be consistently loving. Chasing a man down the altar is not akin to perseverance.

    I’m glad Carrie was happy in the end, but I just think she could have found her happiness much earlier, and less painfully, if she’d initially let Mr. Big go and believed in herself enough to accept something better.

  4. Magda
    January 3, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Wow, I’ve never thought about it like that (about carrie I mean).
    Thank you for your thoughts, it was really good.

  5. secretsociologist
    January 5, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Thanks Magda, for your comment.

    Others have said I’m harsh with Carrie, but I stand by it. Carrie isn’t real, but she does represent a lot of real women out there, and that’s kind of dangerous! 🙂

  1. May 12, 2009 at 7:02 pm

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